Class Meeting Times: T/Th 3:30-4:50 (076 University Hall)
Instructor: Dr. Crystal B. Lake (
Office Hours: make an appointment (available T/Th 1:00-3:00 in 447 Millett Hall)
Twitter: @theinspirelab
Instagram: the.inspire.lab

Course Description: This course is an introduction to the discipline of English, with a focus on the study of poetry and the writing of critical papers on literary topics.

Students successfully completing this course should:

  • be able to close-read literary texts in general;
  • be able to read and understand poetry in particular;
  • be conversant with various interpretive approaches used in the analysis of literary texts;
  • have begun learning how to incorporate secondary sources (that is, criticism of a literary work and/or historical or biographical background as opposed to the work itself, the primary source) in advanced literary-critical arguments.

Students will

  • demonstrate, through oral and written responses, their ability to read and understand poetry;
  • demonstrate, through oral and written responses, their ability to close-read literary texts;
  • demonstrate, through oral and written responses, their engagement with interpretive approaches used in the analysis of literary texts;
  • produce papers that are properly formatted and correctly cite sources according to MLA style.

Required Texts:

(Some of the selected readings for the course may contain graphic violence, adult content, and/or controversial political perspectives. You should consider taking a different course if you anticipate having difficulty with assigned texts.)

Grading Criteria

Course Policies

Attendance: Attendance is required for this course, and I begin taking official attendance on the first day of the second week of class. You may miss 3 classes without penalty; after the third absence, however, your grade will be lowered according to the percentage of the class you have completed by attending. For example, if you miss 4 classes out of our 28 scheduled sessions, you have attended 86% of the course, and you can expect to see a 14% deduction from your final grade that takes into account the number of classes you have missed. Your participation grade will also suffer. If you have an emergency that will keep you from attending class, please let me know as soon as possible. I can’t promise that I will accommodate you, but I will be able to help you get in touch with Student Services who can help you to complete this and the other courses that will have been affected by your emergency. Please note, however, I will do this only in the most dire of circumstances (a death in the family, a major illness requiring hospitalization, etc).

Class Ethos: This course emulates professional climates in order to prepare you for work outside of the college classroom. Please approach your relationship with your professor, your peers, and your readings and assignments as if you were in a professional setting. You might imagine, for example, that class sessions are like business meetings where we meet to establish facts and best practices, brainstorm ideas, conduct critical conversations, learn to navigate rules and procedures, and strategize about fulfilling project goals. You should come to class sessions prepared, then, to offer productive comments on assigned readings, respond to your professor and peer’s ideas with thoughtfulness and respect, and ask questions that are meaningful. You should avoid inviting speculation about your work ethic that will inevitably arise if you seem distracted by electronic devices like cell phones and laptops, if you seem unprepared, if your personal life consistently interferes with your work, if you cannot stay on task during small-ground activities, and if you are unable to meet deadlines. Likewise, you should undertake work for the course – ranging from assigned readings to in-class activities to written assignments – as if you were conducting that work in a professional environment where your performance will be evaluated and decisions about promotions and projects will be based on the competencies and professionalism you demonstrate.

Email: I try to respond to emails in a timely manner, but it may take me up to 48 hours to respond to your email, and you should plan accordingly. Before you email me, however, please take a moment to see if your question(s) might be answered by reviewing the syllabus and other course materials, or by doing a Google search for your question. I do not accept assignments via email. Additionally, I ask that you please do not email me regarding your attendance – except in the case of an emergency that will require me to help you get in touch with Student Services. In other words, you do not need to alert me to any and every absence, and you should contact a classmate to find out what you may have missed. Sometimes, emails from students do end up in my spam folder. If you required a response and did not receive one in 48 hours, be sure to ask if I’ve received your email in class so that we can make sure the lines of communication between us are open. It is a good idea to conduct your email correspondence with me and your other instructors in a professional manner; use a conventional, formal letter address (Dear Dr. or Professor….) and make sure that you include your full name so that I know who you are. Finally, you are responsible for keeping track of your attendance and your grades in the course; I do not tally or calculate these until the end of the semester.

Turning in Work: Work is due at the time and day and in the format as stated on the syllabus or assignment sheet. Technological difficulties such as a broken printer, a failed hard drive, or a disrupted internet connection are not acceptable excuses for late work. I recommend that you complete and print your essays at least 24 hours before the deadline and that use cloud storage to save your work. I will only accept reflection essays in hard copy. Use a stapler if your essay is more than one page. I do not accept late work either in hard copy or via email, and I only make exceptions to this policy for documented emergencies requiring intervention from Student Services (a death in your immediate family, a serious illness requiring hospitalization).

Academic Integrity: Here is WSU’s academic integrity policy. Assignments submitted by students that violate this policy will automatically be reported and assigned a grade of 0.

Students with Disabilities: If you anticipate needing accommodation for a disability in this course, please register with the Office of Disability Services and plan to meet with me during the first week of classes to talk about how we can work together to ensure your success in the course.